Leaders of Communist-Era Intelligence Service Found Guilty for Assassination of Croatian Emigrant

By 3 August 2016

Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač took part in organizing the assassination of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Đureković in 1983.

The court in Munich, Germany, found that Josip Perković and Zdravko Mustač, former high-ranking officials of communist intelligence agencies, were guilty of aiding and abetting in the murder of Croatian emigrant Stjepan Đureković in 1983 and were sentenced to life imprisonment, reports Index.hr on August 3, 2016.

The court rejected defence lawyers’ claims that the German secret service BND had not given all the evidence it had, and the Court stated the Croatian side also had not given all the requested documents. “The verdict is based on the fact that Zdravko Mustač at that time, in 1983, was head of the Croatian branch of the Yugoslav intelligence service, while Josip Perković was head of the department responsible for emigration”, explained the presiding Judge Manfred Dauster.

“Zdravko Mustač in late 1982 or early 1983 authorized Perković to begin preparations for the assassination of Stjepan Đureković”, said Dauster. He thus denied defence’s claims that the assassination of Đureković was organized by the federal level of the Yugoslav secret service. “The motive for removing Đureković was based on his hostile actions and involvement in fraudulent activities in INA. It was felt that the elimination of Đureković would also remove the problem with INA, which due to the investigation of fraud amounting to several million dollars had become a huge burden for the then Croatian leadership”, said Dauster.

Throughout the trial, the defence challenged the motive for the murder. According to the defence, Đureković was killed because he was an agent of the German intelligence service (BND) and betrayed sensitive military secrets related to oil reserves of the former Yugoslav People's Army. Therefore, his assassination was carried out by the military counter-intelligence service (KOS), in cooperation with the federal level security services, which means that Perković as an employee of the Croatian secret service could not have been involved in the assassination.

Immediately before joining the European Union, which meant that Croatia had to begin application of the European arrest warrant, the then Croatian government changed the law and prevented the extradition of the suspects. However, the law was again changed in late 2013, under strong pressure from the European Union and Germany, which allowed Perković and Mustač to be extradited to Germany in the first half of 2014.